Men’s Basketball: A decisive year ahead for coach Collins, Northwestern


Daily file photo by Alyce Brown

Coach Chris Collins throws his hands up in the air during a game. After an offseason exodus, Northwestern and Collins will need to recollect ahead of the 2022-23 season.

Alex Cervantes, Senior Staffer

A mid-March email from athletic director Derrick Gragg indicated the 2022-23 season would be a decisive year for Chris Collins. The 10-year men’s basketball head coach was tasked with “making necessary changes to build towards success” in the new year. And if the offseason has been any hint, it could be an uphill battle this winter.

Following a fifth-consecutive losing season and an offseason exodus, Collins and the Cats are in win-now mode more than ever.

After bowing out in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament to Iowa, Northwestern had to quickly take stock of its losses. Forward Pete Nance, the Wildcats’ leading scorer and rebounder, transferred to North Carolina after testing the NBA Draft process. Center Ryan Young headed to Duke. Guards Ryan Greer and Casey Simmons and forward Elyjah Williams all left Evanston. Nance, Young and Williams’ exits in particular leave Collins with a depleted, inexperienced frontcourt.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. NU returns 61.5 percent of its scoring and a large chunk of its backcourt. Senior guard Boo Buie, who averaged 14.1 points and 4.3 assists per game, is back in the purple and white. Redshirt senior guard Chase Audige will look to return to his 2020-21 form after an up-and-down season. Junior guard Ty Berry showed positive scoring flashes toward the end of conference play, while sophomore guard Julian Roper II’s energy on the defensive end will be much needed.

Senior forward Robbie Beran is the veteran presence in the frontcourt. The additions of freshman forwards Luke Hunger and Nick Martinelli, as well as graduate transfer Tydus Verhoeven, provide the necessary depth. Junior center Matt Nicholson will likely see a significant increase in minutes, too. 

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